Warn Off Your Local Hunt – Next Steps
These are the next further steps you should take to warn off your local hunt. If you have not yet taken any such action click here to find out how to initially Warn off Your Local Hunt.
What to do if your previous requests to keep hounds off have been ignored…
The situation is that you’ve followed the advice given by Hounds Off and written to your local hunt asking them to keep hounds, horses and followers off your property.
The problem is that your wishes have been ignored.
The question now is; what to do next?
First and foremost, you need to engage the police
When any trespass occurs report it to the police at the time or as soon as possible afterwards. Call the Police on 101 (or 999 if you feel immediately frightened). Give details of the date, time and location where the trespass occurred plus any other information you might know (such as the So-and-So Hunt met that day in a nearby village or farm, or that your neighbours witnessed the trespass too).
The police might be reluctant to enforce the Hunting Act so don’t waste your time or theirs arguing about the rights and wrongs of fox hunting or the law as it stands. Instead, focus on facts as you know them plus the genuine distress, harassment and alarm which having your property invaded by the local Hunt has caused to you.
If there is damage to property or livestock then the police need to know about it. This is Criminal Damage and a separate offence.
Ensure that you’re given a Police Incident Number. Keep a note of it. Any time you refer to this incident in the future refer also to this Incident Number also. It will help to keep all associated information together in one place and mean that everyone knows what is being talked about.
Be prepared to be fobbed off with excuses for inaction. Keep calm and focussed at all times. If the police are unhelpful it could be for a number of reasons but the most likely one is that they hope you’ll simply give up and forget about it.
On the contrary, do not give up and never forget.
It might seem like a lot of hard work but don’t let it be a burden that stops you. Simply take your time, make a plan and quietly get on with making a few calls and appointments.
Hounds Off has worked with a Dorset landowner who suffered from years of repeated harassment but eventually received police support and respect from two problem Hunts which have subsequently kept their distance. The following advice is based on their experience…
Here are five people who Hounds Off advise you contact then meet with so that your problem can be shared:
1. Contact your MP
Make an appointment to see your MP. Don’t mention what it’s about until you’re there face-to-face, although if pushed you could simply say “trespass”.
Appeal to the fact that your MP has been elected to represent all constituents regardless of their views on the Hunting Act.
Stress the harassment angle rather than the illegal hunting angle, especially if you know your MP is pro-hunt.
Request that your MP contacts the local police force on your behalf. State clearly that you felt distressed, harassed and alarmed by the hunt trespass which occurred and that you feel the police have an obligation to deal with the incident by contacting you directly.
Give your MP any relevant information such as Police Incident Number and all the details you know to make their life as easy as possible in terms of representing you.
If you are dissatisfied in any way with how your MP deals with you or any of the follow-up actions you request, tell Hounds Off. We will help you get your message home in a polite but firm manner.
Keep notes of all contacts/actions/advice etc.
2. Contact your Parish Councillor
Contact your Parish Council Chairman and inform them of your situation; namely that you have written to the Hunt asking them to keep their hounds off your land in the right and proper way, but this has been ignored.
Stress that the issue is principally one of harassment rather than the rights and wrongs of foxhunting. Give them details such as Police Incident Numbers etc. Ask them to help you in their Parish Council capacity.
Ask that the Parish Council to write to the local hunt requesting they keep off parishioner’s land. We suggest that you request to raise this possibility at an actual Parish Council Meeting; therefore, ask your Chairman how to ensure that it is put on the Agenda beforehand for proper discussion and consideration.
Keep notes of all contacts/actions/advice etc. If you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall please don’t despair. You’re not alone – Hounds Off will always help you.
3. Contact your District Councillor
As with your MP, simply make an appointment to see this person initially.
When you do see them, appeal to the side of them that wants your vote. Let them know that what you are telling them has already been raised with your Parish Council.
Although these people are small-time politicians the aim is to inform them of your situation, including steps you’ve taken to protect yourself from hunt harassment. You want them to take your case up with the police so give them as much information as is appropriate to help them help you (such as dates you sent Warning Off emails/letter, Police Incident Numbers etc).
If they are known to be pro-hunt then obviously be extra careful what you say but essentially treat them as neutral because you have as much right to live free from the harassment caused by hunt trespass as anyone else.
4. Contact your County Councillor
A step up from District Councillor but again, appeal to this person to represent your rights as a voter.
If your County Councillor can take your case to the police so much the better. If this is already being done by others (your MP perhaps) then good. It all helps your case.
Always note who you spoke to, when and any salient points/matters arising.
5. Contact your MEP
See your MEP in exactly the same way as you approached your MP. Let them know the problem, the background to the problem and what action you’ve taken to try and stop it happening again. That Police Incident Number and your notes will prove invaluable.
Ask your MEP to help you protect yourself from similar harassment being repeated.
Ask your MEP to approach the police on your behalf too.
It matters not if others are doing the same. In fact, it’s good if they are because it means you’re more likely to be taken seriously.
As ever, keep notes of conversations, advice and assurances. Let Hounds Off know if there is anything with which you are unhappy.
Lastly (for now), be prepared for progress to be slow. Some people will want to help you, others may not. Either way, always remind politicians of their obligation to represent you as a voter.
Your aim is to get them to help you to engage the police. When they are contacting you, listening and advising constructively, then you’ll know this is happening.